The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has written to Indian pharmaceutical trade bodies and industry associations with the offer of extending logistical support for importing drug materials from China. A note sent out to importers on February 21 conveyed that "in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China, the government is planning to provide logistics support to the importers for airlifting the drug materials from China".
DCGI has urged interested importers to use this facility and inform the government about required imports. Importers have been asked to furnish details including the type of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), or the key starting material (KSM) to make the API, that are to be imported from China, the required quantities, import licence and details of manufacturers of listed raw materials, and the airport for airlifting the requested drug materials.
A senior official of the Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association confirmed that such a note has been received from the office of DCGI. He further added that it is a positive move on the government's part and that many importers have shared the required details. Some within the industry have pointed out that the airlift route may work well for those who depend on costly raw materials. However, they also caution that not every raw material can be airlifted as there could be some dangerous solvents and other materials not fit for airlift and the position on these is still not clear.
In the meantime, people in the Indian pharma industry have also started talking about some movement happening in terms of shipments from the sea route. Any movement, either by air or by sea, is in many ways, linked to the inland movement within China, which so far has been severely curtailed.
Sudarshan Jain, Secretary-General of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, said that we do hear from some of the companies that stocks have started moving through the sea route, though it is still early days and the industry is waiting and watching. Some pharma companies also mentioned that their partners in China have shared plans of sending shipments to India, some of which are expected to arrive by the second week of March.
However, for the moment, all players intend to watch the developments in China this week as they will hopefully indicate how many workers have returned to their workplace, and the extent to which the manufacturers in China will be able to ramp up production.